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Uber’s slip-ups | /TurnedNews.com.ca

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The files reveal that a computer tool called the kill switch, Where circuit breakerand encryption software were also used in France, the Netherlands, Hungary, Romania and India as government, tax and other authorities raided company offices.

This kill switch remotely shut down access to the company’s servers in San Francisco, preventing government authorities from accessing company files without giving the impression that on-site personnel were uncooperative.

According to an internal email from 2015, written by a legal director of Uber in Europe, the company was particularly concerned that the authorities could have access to its list of drivers, which would cause it to be much easier for the taxman, for the authorities and for the police to terrify its drivers and hold them to account.

If we give them the list of drivers, we’re cookedhe added.

One of the first uses of the notorious circuit breaker was when agents from the Directorate General for Competition in France carried out a search of the company’s Paris offices in November 2014. Uber’s European legal director at the epoch sent an email titled Cut access to Paris now at 3:14 p.m. local time. Thirteen minutes later, an IT manager replied: It is done.

During a raid by French tax authorities in July 2015, Mark MacGann, Uber’s chief lobbyist in Europe at the time, advised Thibauld Simphal, then director of Uber France, to ask employees to pretend the surprise when the kill switch was turned on, according to text messages from the leak.

Try a few laptops, look confused when you can’t access them, say the IT team is at [San Francisco] and she is sleeping soundly. The French manager replied: Oh yeah, we’ve used this strategy so many times that the hardest part now is to keep looking surprised!

MacGann told the Guardian he was just following orders. circuit breakerI was acting under the direct orders of my management in San Francisco”,”text”:”Whenever I was personally involved in the circuit breaker activities, I was acting under the direct orders of my management in San Francisco” }}”>Whenever I was personally involved in the activities of circuit breakerI was acting under the direct orders of my management in San Franciscodid he declare.

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Simphal, now global head of sustainability at Uber, said all of his dealings with public authorities were done in good faith.

Microphone in hand, Travis Kalanick looks away.

Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber, resigned from the company in 2017 after a series of scandals. He says he never authorized any activity that would have obstructed justice.Photo: Getty Images/Money Sharma

During an April 2015 search of its Amsterdam offices, Uber’s head of Western Europe emailed a company engineer: Circuit breaker at [Amsterdam] as soon as possible please. Uber co-founder and CEO at the time, Travis Kalanick, was included in the email chain. Seven minutes later, he replied: Please press the kill switch as soon as possible… Access must be cut off at [Amsterdam].

In a statement sent to the ICIJ, Kalanick said he never authorized any activities or programs that would have obstructed justice in any country.

According to its spokesperson, Devon Spurgeon, Uber used technological protocols to protect the intellectual property and privacy of its customers and to ensure due process was observed in the event of an extrajudicial search.

He says the protocols do not result in the deletion of information and that decisions regarding their use have been approved by Uber’s legal and regulatory departments. And he adds that the ex-CEO has never been charged with obstruction of justice.

After the search of its Montreal offices, Uber went to court to challenge the validity of the warrants obtained by Revenu Québec.

In 2016, a Quebec Superior Court judge ruled that the search warrants were valid. He also mentioned that the remote restarting of electronic devices and the remote encryption of their data during the execution of warrants was all the hallmarks of an attempt to obstruct justice and that a judge could reasonably conclude that the company wanted to shield the evidence of his illegal conduct from the attention of the tax authorities.

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It is not known how the investigation ended. A spokeswoman for Revenu Québec told /TurnedNews.com that the agency could not comment. about his current or past investigative activities since both tax confidentiality and investigative privilege apply.

Uber eventually reached an agreement with Revenu Québec under which the Californian company collects, through its platform, the GST and the QST on behalf of the drivers and then remits the amounts to the tax authorities every quarter.

A glass building.

Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco, California.Photo: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

Uber’s total stock market value is US$42 billion. The company says it does business in more than 10,000 cities and more than 70 countries. Its name has become synonymous with electronic hailing applications in the many markets where it dominates. The firm has also diversified into the delivery of meals and food.

However, the Uber Files leak shows how far from assured the company’s meteoric rise was after its launch in San Francisco in 2010.

Uber’s aggressive strategy to establish itself has also caused it a lot of headaches. In a 2014 presentation, the company referred to these issues as shit pyramidformed by layers of litigation, administrative proceedings, regulatory investigations and lawsuits against drivers.

A drawing of a pyramid with annotations.

Slide from a presentation given at Uber’s European headquarters in Amsterdam in 2014 titled “Europe: Offense is the best defense”.Photo: Uber Files/The Guardian/ICIJ

Uber has recruited many political allies to help it overcome these obstacles and to continue its progress.

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